Ransom Note Sent To Pease Airport Contained Bomb Threat, Cash Demands
A bomb threat at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease on Monday forced the evacuation of at least 100 people from the terminal and interrupted at least two flights, according to airport officials.
Chasen Congreves, Pease's manager of airport administration, told Seacoast Current that a fax was received around 9:50 a.m. Monday that outlined cash demands that, if not met, would result in a bomb being detonated in the terminal. However, the determination was ultimately made by airport and law enforcement officials that the note was not genuine.
"We did ultimately determine that the note was not credible," Congreves said. "It lacked sufficient points that would make it credible such as location and time. It wasn't signed. But we erred on the side of caution and proceeded under the advice of our security stakeholders such as law enforcement and TSA and we did end up evacuating the terminal where there were scheduled commercial service flights."
Congreves said at least 100 passengers for a scheduled flight as well as employees who were working inside the terminal were held at a safe distance outside. Construction on the air base nearby was also paused while law enforcement, utilizing K-9 units, searched the area for any potential bomb inside the airport. The Portsmouth and Newington Police Departments, as well as New Hampshire State Police, cooperated in the investigation.
Passengers were allowed back inside the terminal around 11:45 a.m., Congreves said, and the air field was searched as well. Two commercial flights were delayed by about an hour.
Congreves said things generally ran smoothly during the evacuation, which he added was his first encounter with an evacuation at the airport since his employment at Pease began four years ago. However, Congreves said Pease practices such evacuations at least once every year.
He also said threats and ransom notes such as the one received Monday are rare, especially coming out of a fax machine.
"This was a new one for me," Congreves said. "It doesn't happen often and faxes are not a part of our daily business anymore, but we do keep (the machine) there just in case. If someone needs to communicate through that channel, it's there for them. But we do not really see faxes at all anymore."